Ice cold temperatures and freezing wind weren’t enough to keep the eighth annual Crystal Cup Pond Hockey Challenge from being the best one yet. With any annual event, the hope is that it will grow each year, but for the Crystal Cup it’s an actual reality, as this year’s tournament featured 82 teams, the most in Crystal Cup history.
“We had four more teams this year than last year, and it’s great to see that the interest is still there,” said organizer Neil Evans.
As for the games themselves, this year’s event saw a new champion for a change. The Mighty Tucks, wearing throwback jerseys from the first Mighty Ducks movie, beat the Ace Holes 14-11 in a final that didn’t start until 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Ace Holes had won the Cup the previous three years.
In the Sapphire Cup, the VI Blackhawks beat Net Stix and Chill to win the women’s tournament.
This year’s NHL alumni guest, Travis Moen, loved what he saw, both during the adult tournament and in the Sid Davis Memorial Youth Hockey Challenge on Sunday, Feb. 24.
“You can see all the time that goes into it, and it’s an amazing event. I never had quite this experience, but I remember playing on a pond or outdoor rink and this brings back memories,” Moen said. “It’s great to see all the smiles on the kids’ faces, playing unstructured hockey and just going out and having fun.”
Moen played for 12 seasons, and announced his retirement following the 2015-16 season. He most noticeably played five and a half seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, and won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 season. He now lives in his hometown of Swiss Current, Saskatchewan, and helps out with the family farm.
— With files from Dave Lueneberg
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.